Rituximab is used alone or with other medications to treat certain types of cancer (e.g., non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia). It is a type of medication called a monoclonal antibody. It works by attaching to certain blood cells from your immune system (B cells) and killing them. It is also used with other monoclonal antibodies and radioactive drugs to treat certain cancers.
Rituximab is also used with methotrexate to treat moderate-to-severe forms of rheumatoid arthritis. It is usually used for arthritis only after other medications have not worked. It can decrease joint pain and swelling. It is also used to treat certain types of blood vessel disease (such as Wegener’s granulomatosis, microscopic polyangiitis).
See also Warning section.
Headache, fever, chills, nausea, heartburn, flushing, weakness, or dizziness may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, contact your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Many people using this medication have serious side effects. However, your doctor has prescribed this drug because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Careful monitoring by your doctor may decrease your risk.
Before using rituximab, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to other mouse protein medications; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: blood disorders (e.g., thrombocytopenia), heart problems (e.g., irregular heartbeat, angina), current or returning infections, lung problems (e.g., pulmonary infiltrates), previous severe reaction to monoclonal antibody treatment, virus infection (e.g., chickenpox, hepatitis B or C, herpes, JC virus).
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor’s approval.
Some products that may interact with this drug include: other anti-cancer drugs (e.g., cis-platinum, fludarabine), drugs for high blood pressure (e.g., enalapril, metoprolol, verapamil), other drugs that weaken the immune system/increase the risk of infection (e.g., azathioprine, tofacitinib, cyclosporine, natalizumab, fingolimod, corticosteroids such as prednisone), recent or planned immunizations (e.g., polio vaccine taken by mouth, measles vaccines).